FacebookTwitter

From the Pastor’s Pen

March 29, 2017

“Do all things without murmuring or arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world.”         Philippians 2:14-15

When you don’t get to see your family very often, you tend to be on your best behavior. You bite your tongue when you would ordinarily say something. You let go of things you would usually address. And if you’ve traveled with a member of your immediate family for the visit, you wait until you get home to express something that is bothering you.

These unspoken rules apply to most families. Ignore them at your peril. If you say what you’re really thinking, it may be a very long time before you’re asked to return, and it could be really awkward when you do.

Murmuring and arguing begin when we feel entitled to have our way about something. These behaviors are grounded in an unspoken demand that others behave in a way we want them to behave. Prepare to be disappointed. We don’t actually have any kind of control at all in how others behave.

We have every opportunity through faith, however, to act in those ways that would please us if others acted that way towards us. Something about a Golden Rule, as I recall, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” Jesus became even more specific as he went on to ask his followers to love their enemies, and to lend to others in need, and to do good things for others, expecting nothing in return. And finally he said, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”

Nearly every religious and cultural tradition of the world has a similar teaching: "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." Confucius (c. 500 BC); "Do not do to others that which angers you when they do it to you." – the philosopher Isocrates (436–338 BC); “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Buddhism – Udanavarga 5:18).

I have to confess that from time to time I get cranky. When that happens, it’s likely because I want someone to see, think, or act differently, which really means that I want them to do what I want them to do. Then I remember these beautiful, invitational words of the Apostle Paul written to his squabbling friends at the beloved ancient church at Philippi.

“Do all things without murmuring or arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God….and shine like stars in the world.”

Prayer: Just for today O God, give me the courage to keep silent when I’m eager to speak, and to set my face for shining. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you.

Pastor Anna V. Copeland